Alamo Optometry Blog

November 4, 2009

Adult Vision Over 60 Years of Age

Filed under: Educational — Tags: — admin @ 11:38 pm

Adult Vision Over 60 Years of Age

(As appeared in <a href=”http://yourmonthlypaper.com”>Alamo Today</a>, November 2009, pg. 34)

 At last we reach the final article in our series.  Here we tackle the vision and eye health issues over age 60.   As your body and eyes age, vision changes do occur; some are natural and some are not.  Conditions such as presbyopia (decreased ability to read) and cataracts are a normal part of the aging process.  Other issues such as glaucoma and macular degeneration are more likely as you age, but are not a normal age-related finding.
 Even though cataracts are considered an age-related finding, they are so common that it is almost considered normal.  According to some studies, half of all people over 65 have some degree of cataract formation, and that increases with age.  A cataract is a clouding of the lens inside your eye.  Cataracts cause a slow decrease in vision, a dulling of colors, and increased glare.  The procedure to remove cataracts is extremely simple and is the most widely performed procedure in the United States.  
 Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of decreased vision among our seniors.  The macula is in the center part of your retina, where light comes to a focus.  Your macula is responsible for giving you good acuity and color vision.  All detail work whether it is driving, reading, or recognizing faces is controlled by the macula.  It is important to keep it mind that from macular degeneration alone one will never go “blind.”  You will always have your peripheral or side vision intact; however, the periphery of your retina does not allow sharp vision.  Your likelihood for AMD increases as you age; generally 1 in 5 over 70 and 1 in 3 over the age of 85 are affected.  There are many new treatments available that we did not have even a few years ago.  However, these are targeted to halt the progression, not to regain what has been lost. 
 Glaucoma is a disease that causes irreversible damage to the optic nerve.  The optic nerve carries the visual information it receives from the retina to your brain.  Unfortunately, at this time, there is no cure for glaucoma; we are only able to slow the process down.  Glaucoma is also a problem because it does not bring you into the office, i.e. it does not blur your vision, make your eyes red, give you a headache, etc.  I tell my patients that by the time they can functionally see a decrease in their vision and peripheral vision, the disease has progressed about 75%. Early detection and treatment is paramount for this condition.
 The above-mentioned eye conditions generally take a long time to progress.  These following conditions result in rapid progression and should be addressed as soon as possible:
– You experience a sudden increase in floaters and/or flashes of light, or a dark curtain comes across your field of view.  This can be a sign of a retinal detachment and requires a dilated examination as soon as possible.
– Sudden eye pain, redness, headache with nausea.  This is likely an acute attack of glaucoma caused by rapid increase in the pressure within the eye.
– Sudden double vision.  There can be many causes for this including a binocular vision disorder (eye-teaming) or diabetes.  However, it could also indicate an underlying health condition such as a stroke.

 Even though I have only touched the surface of potential vision issues that affect humans as they age, it is important to understand that early diagnosis and treatment is key.  Generally speaking, the earlier the diagnosis, the better the prognosis.  Annual dilated examinations for these patients should be mandatory.  As stated above, some issues can begin to affect your eyes without any tangible signs for you to notice.  We have a great network of retina, glaucoma, and cataract surgeons at our disposal that we can refer to if needed. 

Dr. K. at Alamo Optometry is your hometown eye doctor for outstanding service, vision care, and designer eyewear.  He can be reached at 925-820-6622 or visit his office at 3201 Danville Blvd., Suite 165 in Alamo.  Visit our website at: ww.alamooptometry.com.

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